If Jesus’s words about anger didn’t ruffle any feathers, this next teaching surely would:
You have heard that it was said, Do not commit adultery. But I tell you, everyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.Matthew 5:27-30 (CSB)
After looking behind the sixth commandment, Jesus now moves on to the seventh—Do not commit adultery (Exodus 20:14).
Jesus knew the outward sin was just a response to an inward problem.
Again, throwing the Pharisees and religious Jews into a state of righteous indignation, he starts with the Law they knew they could uphold. After all, only the wickedest of men would commit such a sin. While they stand in confidence to their innocence, Jesus would know that others were already feeling the heat. We all know, it doesn’t take a crowd of over five thousand to find a few sinners.
Jesus, however, was all about leveling the playing field with sin.
He wanted those who struggled with sexual sins to know that in God’s eyes there was no sin greater than another. Even then one who looked lustfully at a woman was sinning. A holy God cannot stand with those who sin outwardly or inwardly; no, he can only stand with the righteous.
Jesus showed that without him, obvious, outward sins required punishment, so too the secret sins.
In order to maintain the spirit of the Law, a man whose eye led him to sin would have to take action against that eye, just as the Pharisees so readily acted against the body of a man caught in adultery. Neither had a good solution under the letter of the Law.
When we let sin fester, it leads to more desperate and depraved acts.
Just as anger can lead to murder, Jesus shows us here that contempt for a fellow human being can lead a person to wrong sexual actions. Adultery not only shows contempt for a married woman, but for her husband, and leads a person to sully the marriage covenant. Note, that I’m directing this toward men for this example, but it works the same for women. No one is off the hook with sexual desires that lead to sin.
Those who choose to follow the Way of Christ must live above these base desires of a sinful heart. While no person may see them, Jesus is making it clear that God does, for he knows the heart of man.
What will you do with this teaching of Jesus? Is it for us today? Absolutely. Is it hard? Absolutely. Are we redeemable? In Christ, absolutely. Thanks to his sacrifice on our behalf, we can find forgiveness for the worst of our desires and acts, and in him find only…
Grace and Peace